The people of the state of Iowa have been subjected to arguably the most sweeping, malicious legislation in the state’s recent memory. Public schools and family planning services were underfunded. Collective bargaining rights have been quashed, local minimum wages were preempted and lowered, workers compensation laws intentionally weakened, strict limitations passed on abortions, gun restrictions were loosened, a discriminatory and costly voter identification law was passed, and that is only to name a few.
However, the worst part of the legislative session is not one particular bill or issue – it is the fact that we are only halfway through the 87th General Assembly.
As the Legislature heads toward the interim, a period of legislative inaction and silence will replace the seemingly weekly assaults on Iowa’s working families. State politics and policy making will settle down, and it will be easy for the average citizen to feel a sense of relief and forget what has occurred – that is unless they are not allowed to forget.
An informed electorate is critical to the functioning of our democracy, and an involved electorate makes that happen. The Iowa House Democrats have recently launched their House Builder Program. Iowa Senate Democrats are close behind. Multiple opportunities for involvement are opening at the state and local levels for precinct leader orientations, community outreach meetings, canvassing trainings, and more. The options are there for people to become involved and, perhaps even more importantly, help keep other people informed about state policies as they are enacted, their effects, and their outcomes.
It is too late now to change who our elected officials are. No amount of protesting can change that. But if that energy and those efforts are redirected toward informing and educating our families, friends, and neighbors about the dark future facing Iowa, then Democrats may just have a chance in 2018.
The work starts now and it starts with you. Get involved.
by Zaakary Barnes
Vice Chair, Ankeny Area Democrats